It was in my earliest supervisory assignment, in employment with an airline, that I first discovered this truth that – ‘If we treat people as they ought to be we help them to become what they are capable of becoming” – Wolfgang von Goethe.
I was assigned a secluded office on the periphery of the Calcutta airport, along with a dozen smart, young men, who were nearly about my age of 25 years at the time (they were about 22-23), along with a single lady of my age. As opposed to the team being intimidated by me, as is to be the case with one’s boss, I was in my heart – though never let on in the slightest, was highly intimidated with them. What with us literally cut off from the rest of the world due to the office’s location. Before they reported to me, I was briefed on each member of my team who had just joined the company, by our sales as well as regional head, along with the two trainers from head office who had taken the team through a series of theoretical trainings in preparation for their role.
One of the men, I was told specifically, was ‘very troublesome’ and had an “attitude problem” as in addition to all else he did, he chucked fistfuls of paper balls on the two male trainers’ heads, in the course of the training. I was told to watch him for a week, he given a chance as he was otherwise bright, but more due to the high cost of recruitment and training. If he proved to be what the trainers branded him to be, I was at liberty to bid him goodbye, as would the company, for good. However, I took him on as a challenge and was as polite to him, as with the rest of the staff, in fact exceptionally so. Then going a step further, I went out to the airport bookstore and bought him a self-help book on improving his attitude. I don’t know what it was, whether my kindness and his ensuing guilt, he opened up to me about his personal problems, on how he was going through personal hell – with a divorce and child custody with the barest of means, from a very early marriage.
After I listened and empathised, he promised me not only to be good, but help me train and help other staff, not as sharp as him. I then had as asset at hand and not a liability as anticipated and branded by those ready to give up on him easily. However shortly he was whisked off as a good performer, by another department – with more claims for the need of such staff. In the months ahead, I had another similar case of a man who had landed on my team from Chennai, due to a personal exigency – his bride-to-be threatening to walk out on him, if he did not get his hide to Calcutta immediately, also branded having an attitude problem as he made more errors, than the real work he did. The company had no need of him, as he was a complete wreck and did not even pay his salary for months – from such forced transfer on his part. Yet he was ready to work, just so as to keep his job for the wedding ahead. He turned out in time to be another asset, even though the threatening girl was not to be his bride from having run away anyways.
Then I spent a few years thereon, being thrust upon with troublesome men to train and turnaround every few months, and then other departments grabbed them, till I got quite tired of bringing up grownup boys and quit the department myself…this followed my bringing up quite a few more young men – as women are not so troublesome to start with, in the numerous jobs that followed, never to wish bringing up another boy or girl again 🙂